EDITORIAL: Sun, sea and potholes

A video capturing the blatant, daylight theft of sand by two individuals from a beach in the Crabbe Hill area has highlighted the need for greater enforcement of our laws and regulations as it pertains to this valuable resource.  As well, it underlines the importance of social media in the fight against social ills that plague our bit of paradise.

We tip our hats to the videographer and his excellent use of contrast in his composition.  He begins his narrative as he captures a beautiful, cloud-obscured afternoon sun over calm waters; “Ah! Such a lovely day!” he exclaims.  He then pans across the white sandy beach until he comes upon two men helping themselves to the beach sand.  Well, “helping themselves” is an understatement, so we will let our intrepid journalist continue his narration.  With frustration and a hint of anger, he says, “Look at these thieves.  Look at them! Taking and stealing sand like they own the island.” An accurate description as the two men lug their bulging bags of sand to their awaiting getaway vehicle – a blue Suzuki Vitara.

Our videographer sums up the situation nicely by stating the obvious: “If this keeps up, we will not have any beaches left and probably will not have an island left.”  It sounds like an over-the-top statement but if we allow this to continue unabated, we will do irreparable damage, the very thing that is the foundation of our livelihood. People come to our bit of paradise for the sun, sea and sand.  They are intertwined, a trilogy, if you will, because any two without the other is simply not paradise. 

Do we not have enough potholes on our roads?  Do we now need to make potholes on our beaches, as well?  How selfish can a person be to want to destroy the lifeblood of our economy? At what point did they inherit the right to the sand on the beach? (We feel a rant coming on.  We must resist!)

This selfish, don’t-care-about-anyone attitude is plaguing our country.  Our lack of civic pride and uncaring ways are damaging brand Antigua and Barbuda and there are no signs that this ‘illness’ is being contained.  These guys are not even hiding the fact that they are stealing sand.  They are doing the deed in broad daylight, at the edge of the public road. There is no more evidence needed to conclude that they just do not care.

We put these thieves in the same category as those people who illegally dump and litter.  You know, the ones who throw things indiscriminately from their car windows and curse anyone who confronts their dreadful behaviour.  We are willing to bet that these two beach thieves would have cursed you, and many of your generations, if you dared to ask them to account for their ways. And yes, we refer to this as beach theft because that is what it is.  When you steal sand, you don’t just drive away with the sand, you drive away with a piece of the beach’s beauty.

 

Those giant potholes make our beautiful beaches less attractive and dangerous.  What happens when a tourist, blinded by the beauty of the sun, sea and sand, twists an ankle, or worse, in one of the potholes left behind by this selfish thievery?  A visit to paradise suddenly turns into a visit to the hospital and bad reviews to the world.  We can see the headline on social media: “I went to Antigua and all I got was a lousy broken hip!”  It would be followed by a detailed account of falling into a giant hole on the beach and a not-so-nice write-up of their trip to the hospital.  And knowing our luck, it will start to trend and then go viral.  

Before that happens, the authorities and the general public must take action to protect the people’s assets from the thieves who put their selfish desires above those of the community. Like the concerned citizen who took the time to document the beach theft, we must all be aware and help bring a consciousness to this type of destructive behaviour.  It will take everyone’s effort to achieve a lasting solution.  

Sure, we can make demands of the police and the other government agencies to address the situation but the reality is, there are limited resources to go around. That is the very reason why the thieves in this video can be so bold with their actions. They know that the likelihood of anyone in authority finding them is slim to none, so they ignore the miniscule risk.  It is why the community effort is so important and why we must all get involved. 

So, in keeping with the pleas of our videographer, “Please spread this as much as you can so that we can bring awareness to this and get the authorities involved.”  Say no to potholes on our beaches.

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